Pandemic Futures

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Writers: K Ballesteros (English) Tobey Calayo (Filipino), & AJ Mapoy (English)
Editors: Tobey Calayo, K Ballesteros, Richardson Mojica
Researchers: Alvin Joseph Mapoy, Jerwin Regala, and Rafael Reyes
Creatives: Krystle Mae Labio, Jacklyn Moral, Klein Xavier Boiser
Tweet Chat Moderators: Eula Mei Labordo, Ian Stephen Velez, Marga Miñon, Christine Joy Salva Cruz, Krystle Mae Labio, Marc John Paul Agbuya, and Jomari Gimongala
Spaces Moderators: Alvin Joseph Mapoy, Richardson Mojica, Azie Libanan, K Ballesteros, Kamille Huelgas and the rest of the #UsapTayo Volunteers
Documentor: Alvin Joseph Mapoy

 

What sets Gen Z apart is the cohort’s entanglement with current and emerging technologies, and the rate at which they are shifting the rest of the world’s relationship with communication technologies. Born between 1995 and 2012 [01], Zoomers “came of age in a world where content and information [are] increasingly free and shared, and where the body of human knowledge has expanded” [02]. Aside from the distinction as digital natives, what sets Zoomers apart from Millennials–the generation known as digital adapters who grew up using first analog devices and then later migrated easily to virtual platforms and digital technologies–is the extent to which Gen Zers comfortably rely on and use social technologies to establish and maintain important relationships.

Nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries were affected worldwide in this radical shift in education [03], and the ensuing challenges that emerged in its wake. Given Gen Zers’ reliance on communication technologies, the sudden shift to flexible learning and their individual confinement at home make Zoomers especially vulnerable to social media-related burnout, and to developing acute  and chronic mental health issues that arise as a result of hyperconnectivity.   

Digital Natives answering analog challenges

For those born in 1996 and later, technology-aided-communications have always been the bedrock of their interactions. Even the oldest Gen Zers or Zoomers don’t remember a time without social media [02, 04, 05] . Filipino Gen Zers therefore feel the most comfortable using social media to express and document their experience and their criticism of the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic through the following hashtags:  #LigtasBalikEskwela, #AcademicEaseNOW, and #AcademicFreezeNOW. Gen Zers challenge unfair policies by pointing out that different establishments for entertainment, profit, and leisure have been given leeway to reopen, but primary through tertiary educational institutions have been instructed to remain shut as a measure to protect against higher rates of local transmission. 

While Gen Zers from the Global North and other developed countries are often described as being “the most educated generation” to date, Filipinos and their contemporaries from countries in neocolonies and those residing in the Global South must live in a different reality. A survey about Gen Z and their worldview [02] lists the following as determining factors: watching parents lose their jobs; the growing wealth gap between income groups; rising expenses for basic goods and services; and the rise in cost of education. This cohort has witnessed many members of their household, their relatives, and their immediate communities either lose a job or experience retrenchment and furlough measures due to the continuing pandemic [01]. The technological gap, the population of Gen Z with continuing and sustained access to basic services, and the variance in purchasing power or the capacity to participate in economic exchange are socio-economic issues exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This is the world Zoomers will inherit: inequality made all the more visible between haves and have nots. It is no wonder, therefore, that Zoomers are described as “prioritizing social activism more than previous generations” [02] and that this generation more than others actively seek out organizations and businesses that reflect their own values back to them. 

Gen Zers also expect more from their governments than older generations,  desiring an “activist government” [01] that is responsive, compassionate, and empathetic to the needs of its constituents. According to a study by Pew Research (2020), Gen Zers overwhelmingly believe that “government should do more to solve problems” instead of relying on private industry, businesses, and individuals. Filipino Gen Zers who have matriculated as senior high school and university students use social media to vocally criticize the government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On social media, criticisms about the mishandling of the pandemic are recorded online, and across social platforms where calls for student aid persist. These anecdotal reports support global studies claiming that young workers from the Gen Z cohort are “particularly vulnerable to job loss…as they were overrepresented in high-risk service sector industries” [01]. 

Anxiety in the digital age

The call for student aid has persisted since the government announced the shift to online and modular learning. While the goal of this radical shift is to protect students against the virus, the Filipino experience of the pandemic cannot and should not be divorced from the material reality through which the pandemic’s effects were amplified. It is telling that even the most adept at using technology–and the generation most comfortable with immersive technology, are among those most vocal about wanting to use less of it. Gen Zers talk about the effect of module-based learning, the rate at which they were expected to adapt to online classes, and the burden of learning from home exacerbated by material and infrastructural constraints. Gen Zers’ struggles with mental health and other difficulties have been linked directly to online or modular learning amidst the pandemic [06]. 

Among the most pervasive and most devastating realities that Gen Z students face include the lack of conducive study spaces, few devices per number of learners per household, and few support services catering specifically to students and Gen Zers. Individual students bear the burden of inventing or discovering workarounds to rolling blackouts, and lack of access to reliable and inexpensive broadband providers, and the lack of support services for those whose learning styles are not primarily text-based or rely on a set structure with subject matter experts. Filipino Gen Z students call for easing the burden of the academic load, for a return to face-to-face classes in light of the challenges so many of them face at home. 

Calls for solidarity among student-led organizations ask for fewer academic requirements, and academic safety nets in the form of the No Fail Policy and the No Penalties for late submissions. Their comfort and familiarity with digital technologies are not reason enough to expect Gen Zers to navigate the pandemic with stacked expectations. This cohort is perhaps the most acutely aware of navigating limited resources, and the stress of falling behind. A national survey on medical students in the Philippines published in 2021 [07] described the direness of the current situation under the flexible learning scheme: 

One out of five students did not have a computer, and an identical proportion had to rely on prepaid mobile data for connectivity. Roughly one out of twenty used only a smartphone. Power interruptions, weak infrastructure, and internet costs restricted the students’ access to online content…a higher percentage of students had experienced challenges relating to their personal study habits, situation at home, and interaction with educators.

Looking through their hashtags, the experiences of the Filipino cohort are likewise marked by increased anxiety, flagging concentration, and increasing intolerance for stress and feelings of despair around the Philippine government’s failure to find a better alternative to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED)’s flexible learning scheme. Studies that seek to describe barriers to online learning [07] identify domestic concerns, institutional barriers, and community barriers, including infrastructure and sociopolitical issues. Notable among the findings that the students who need the most support are also the most at risk. This and other studies highlight that students are not only students. Their experience of the pandemic is marked by psychological distress: “feelings of anxiety, burnout, loneliness, homesickness, grief, and hopelessness…[they] worried about online assessments, future plans in medical school, possible delays in training, and safety of their families from COVID-19” [07]. 

Collective Care, Collective Action

The feeling that Gen Z students are missing out on important hallmarks of their formative years — greeting the beginning of academic years together, strengthening friendships and key peer relationships, marking milestones like proms, and exploring interpersonal relationships — likewise pervades the conversations online. The pain of missing out, and the attendant disappointment that accompanies this feeling, are acute and, in many cases, unbearable given the brevity of Gen Z’s time in physical contact with their peers, and the value attached to a four-year college education. Majority of university courses require only four years to complete; nationwide or regional pandemic restrictions have taken up half of this time for many Zoomers. 

While some of their responses were centered upon personal dreams, the overarching response was a dream of a better nation. Gen Zers, however, are more than likely to believe that technology and the tech industry are not overwhelmingly or geared primarily to provide a net positive social impact [04]. In fact, Zoomers are more inclined to trust a small, close network of friends and family more than any other information source [05]. 

Their relative powerlessness in the face of the current pandemic only deepens Gen Zers’ commitment to meeting societal challenges, including such high-profile and entrenched issues like climate change and world hunger [02,05]. Zoomers put a premium on sustainable consumption. Gen Z individuals who have entered the workforce exhibit much more concern for the ethical practices that guide organizations [04], the extent to which the organization as a whole is willing to provide bespoke or customized career-pathing [02, 05], the organization’s capacity to provide work-life balance, and attitudes and behaviors around diversity, inclusivity, and equity [04]. That which sets Gen Z apart from older generations, therefore, is in their capacity to hold organizations, brands, institutions, and governments accountable [05] for abusive practices. 

While climate-related activism and sustainability are outstanding issues for Gen Zers globally [08], for Filipino Gen Zers, in particular, the effects of the climate crises are much more pronounced, and take on a different urgency. Galileo de Guzman Castillo’s Asian Generation Z’s Voice for Peace and Justice was a clarion call for Filipinos of his generation. According to Castillo, “intergenerational justice calls for intergenerational accountability; that just and lasting peace entails learning from each other’s histories and realities” [09]. Not only does Castillo call for accountability across nations and across generations, but he also underscores the responsibilities for environmental and sustainable change to which each generation must commit. His and his generation’s call is to recognize each other’s relational realities, in which the only way Gen Zers can thrive is through collective care and collective action. 

Holding the system accountable 

Coming of age during the digital revolution has made Gen Zers understand the role that information, knowledge, and technology play in lasting and sustainable change. Part of their aspirations include earning a college degree, and even pursuing graduate studies. Acting as catalysts for change across sectors, industries, and in the arena of politics, also form part of this emerging cohort’s aspirations. 

Gen Zers are more responsive to both the urgent action needed to address the climate crisis [01], and to forward progressive and radical ideas surrounding sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. Gen Zers are also more capable of quick responses to disasters by leveraging technology and social media to answer calls for monetary and in-kind donations, fundraisers, and other civic relations [10]. All of this marks Gen Z as valuing compassion, empathy, and action. Some companies have begun to answer this call. In the Philippines, at least, telecommunication brands have begun to increase the number of cell sites, upgrade towers, and to provide free wi-fi (Dela Cruz, 2020). These interventions are concentrated on remote areas in less serviced regions; PLDT and Smart also provided “fiber powered WiFi connectivity to more government-run quarantine, swabbing, and isolation sites” [11] to serve Filipinos undergoing treatment or testing. The same telco brand also powered dedicated hotlines targeting COVID-19-related health issues, providing quick response or assistance for information via 02-894026843 or 1555 accessible by any mobile device. 

How do other basic needs providers, as well as organizations, brands, and other groups keep up? 

From social media listening to concrete solutions. Recognizing the utility of digital and telecommunication technologies means that service providers must now also recognize how vital their services have become, and the magnitude and scope of their influence. Gen Zers know this implicitly. Organizations and businesses must therefore listen, acknowledge, and respond to the issues and challenges that Gen Zers are facing, and provide concrete solutions. For example: Meralco implemented a one month extension on billing [12] at the beginning of the 2020 quarantine, in order to allow individuals to avoid late payment penalties, and to enable their customer base to file bills online instead of over-the-counter. 

Shifting focus towards sustainability. ‘Sustainability’ has become a clarion call across sectors — foregrounding pressing environmental issues. Sustainability also means revisiting, repealing, and abandoning policies and systems that trap families and communities in poverty. In this sense, shifting focus towards sustainability requires taking a critical look at what ideals organizations serve, and refocusing to become more people-oriented and environmentally-focused. This comes on the heels of a startling reality revealed by the devastating effects of the pandemic: according to Save the Children’s 2020 [13] survey about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children, “37% of poorer families reported difficulties paying for learning materials…less than 1% of poorer children interviewed had access to internet for distance learning”. Gen Zers, most of all, is a generation that will leave no one behind. From the same report, Inger Ashing, Save the Children CEO, said: 

To protect an entire generation of children from losing out on a healthy and stable future, the world needs to urgently step up with debt relief for low-income countries and fragile states, so they can invest in the lives of their children. The needs of children and their opinions need to be at the centre of any plans to build back what the world has lost over the past months, to ensure that they will not pay the heaviest price [13].  

Join us as we spotlight the Gen Zers in our lives! Join us this 20 August during our regular #UsapTayo tweetchat from 7 to 8PM. We also have run #UsapTayoSpaces from 7 to 9PM. Tara, #UsapTayo! 

Guide Questions

  1. How did the pandemic change your dreams and aspirations for yourself, your community, and your country?
  2. How did your relationship with technology and social media change during the pandemic? 
  3. How are you continuing to pursue your dreams despite the pandemic? 

 

Works Cited

[01] Parker, K., & Igielnik, R. (2020). On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What we Know about Gen Z so far. Pew Research. Retrieved 13 August 2021, from https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/05/14/on-the-cusp-of-adulthood-and-facing-an-uncertain-future-what-we-know-about-gen-z-so-far-2/

[02] Gomez, K., Mawhinney, T., & Betts, K. (n.d.). Welcome to Generation Z. Deloitte. Retrieved 10 August 2021, from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/consumer-business/welcome-to-gen-z.pdf

[03] World Health Organization. (2020, September 25). Conflict, climate crisis and COVID-19 pose great threats to the health of women and children. Available from:  https://www.who.int/news/item/25-09-2020-conflict-climate-crisis-and-covid-19-pose-great-threats-to-the-health-of-women-and-children (Accessed: 08 August 2021). 

[04] Stahl, A. (2021). How Gen Z is bringing a fresh perspective to the world of work. Forbes. Retrieved 10 August 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2021/05/04/how-gen-z-is-bringing-a-fresh-perspective-to-the-world-of-work/?sh=6e503a4e10c2

[05] Kim, A., McInerney, P., Smith, T.R., & Yamakawa, N. (2020). Gen-Zers in the Asia-Pacific Region aren’t like their older siblings. McKinsey, research & consultancy. Retrieved 10 August 2021, from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/what-makes-asia-pacifics-generation-z-different

[06] San Juan, A. D. (2020, August 15). Colleges, universities not required to delay school opening — CHED. Manila Bulletin. Available from: https://mb.com.ph/2020/08/15/colleges-universities-not-required-to-delay-school-opening-ched/ (Accessed: 02 August 2021). 

[07] Baticulon, R. E., Sy, J. J., Alberto, N., Baron, M., Mabulay, R., Rizada, L., Tiu, C., Clarion, C. A., & Reyes, J. (2021). Barriers to Online Learning in the Time of COVID-19: A National Survey of Medical Students in the Philippines. Medical science educator, 1–12. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40670-021-01231-z https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7904236/

[08] GlobalWebIndex & Snap, Inc. (2019). The Youth of the Nations: Global trends among Gen Z. Retrieved 12 August 2021 from

https://assets.ctfassets.net/inb32lme5009/7wDIuSsLOnSxTUqPmRb081/603b8ffb77757549d39034884a23743c/The_Youth_of_the_Nations__Global_Trends_Among_Gen_Z.pdf

[09] Castillo, G. (2021, June 16). Asian Generation Z’s Voice for Peace and Justice 

Focus on the Global South. International Peace Bureau’s Asian Webinar Series: Asian Generation Z’s Voice for Peace and Justice. Retrieved 10 August 2021, from https://focusweb.org/asian-generation-zs-voice-for-peace-and-justice/

[10] Sawadjaan, A. (2020, June 08). Millennials, Gen Zs help amid COVID-19 pandemic
BusinessWorld, BusinessWorld. Retrieved 10 August 2021, from https://www.bworldonline.com/millennials-gen-zs-help-amid-covid-19-pandemic/

[11] SMART Public Affairs. (2021, April 27). PLDT, Smart team up with gov’t for connectivity at isolation sites, COVID-19 facilities. Retrieved 16 August 2021, from https://smart.com.ph/About/newsroom/full-news/2021/04/27/pldt-smart-team-up-with-gov’t-for-connectivity-at-isolation-sites-covid-19-facilities

[12] Oxford Business Group. (2020, March 30). The role of the Philippines’ digital economy amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Retrieved 15 August 2021, from https://oxfordbusinessgroup.com/news/role-philippines-digital-economy-amid-covid-19-pandemic

[13] Save the Children. (2020, September 10). COVID-19: Children from poorest households across the globe have suffered greatest loss of family income, missed out most on education, and faced the highest risk of violence at home. Retrieved 16 August 2021, from https://www.savethechildren.net/news/covid-19-children-poorest-households-across-globe-have-suffered-greatest-loss-family-income

[14] Philippine News Agency [PNA]. (2020). Connectivity is key: Staying connected in time of pandemic, 30 December. Available from: https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1125996 (Accessed: 10 August 2021). 

[15] IDC Medical Center. (2020). The rising need for digital infrastructure development in the Philippines amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Retrieved 12 August 2021, from https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prAP46978920

[00] Department of Health [DOH]. (2020, March 17). DOH Launches COVID-19 hotlines 1555, 02894-COVID. Retrieved 16 August 2021, from https://doh.gov.ph/node/20275

 

 

Filipino:

Pandemic Futures (Kinabukasang Naisusulat sa Panahon ng Pandemya) 

Isinulat nina: K Ballesteros (English) Tobey Calayo (Filipino), & AJ Mapoy (English)
Inedit nina: Tobey Calayo, K Ballesteros, Richardson Mojica
Pananaliksik nina: Alvin Joseph Mapoy, Jerwin Regala, and Rafael Reyes
Disenyo nina: Krystle Mae Labio, Jacklyn Moral, and Klein Xavier Boiser
Mga Tagapagdaloy sa Tweet Chat: Eula Mei Labordo, Ian Stephen Velez, Christine Joy Salva Cruz, Krystle Mae Labio, Marc John Paul Agbuya, and Jomari
Documentors: Alvin Joseph Mapoy
Mga Tagapagdaloy sa Spaces: Alvin Joseph Mapoy, Richardson Mojica, Azie Libanan, K Ballesteros, Kamille Huelgas kasama ang buong #UsapTayo Volunteers

Pagkatapos ng mahigit na isang taong pandemya, nakatakda lamang na sabihing hindi biro ang naging epekto nito sa lahat ng tao sa kahit anong aspeto, lalong-lalo na sa mga mag-aaral na napilitang kayanin at sabayan ang naging tugon ng kanilang paaralan sa hamon na dala ng panahon – ‘yong iba ay piniling lumiban muna sa pag-aaral, ‘yong iba naman ay sinulong ang buhay ng online class, at may mga sumubok naman sa modular learning; subalit sa kahit anong uri pa ng pag-aaral ang nagtatangkang sumagip sa tuluyang edukasyon ng kabataan, hindi maikakaila ang matinding pagbabago sa kinabukasan nakaharap sa kanila, dahil ang usaping pagkatuto sa gitna ng panahong ito ay usaping politikal, kabuhayan, at kalusugan (lusog-isip at -pisikal) din. 

Ang usapan tungkol sa kinabukasan sa gitna ng pandemya ay mas nabibigyang kahulugan at halaga kapag tinutuon ito sa mga Gen Z o ang henerasyon at salinlahi na ipinanganak sa pagitan ng 1995 at 2012 [01], sila ang pangunahing henerasyon na pumasok bilang mag-aaral sa gitna ng pandemya. Kilala at bukod-tangi sila sa pagkakaroon ng likas na kakayahan sa paggamit at pag-usisa ng teknolohiya, kung saan sila ang nagsisilbing gabay at pinuno para sa pagbabago at digital na pagtanggap ng mundo; bukod sa kanilang likas na kakayahan sa mundong digital, ang pangkat demograpikong Henerasyong Z ay nahuhulog sa katangian ng mga nagbibigay nang lubos na halaga para sa online world, ito ay mas pinalakas at pinayabong ng pandemya, kung saan makikitang mas komportable sila sa paggamit ng espasyo-digital bilang unang sandigan, pinagkukunan, at paraan para sa pagbubuo ng interaksyon at pananatili ng relasyon. 

Sa kabila ng kakayahan ng mga nasa Henerasyon Z sa digital world, naging mailap at mahirap pa rin ang kanilang mga naranasan, kung saan naitalang halos 1.6 bilyong mag-aaral na nasa mahigit na 190 na mga bansa ang nakaranas ng agarang pagbabago sa lagay at sistemang pang-edukasyon [03]. 

Kwentong Digital: Mundo ng Pagbabago, ang Mag-aaral na Kritikal Para sa kanila [Henerasyon Z], ang teknolohiya ang kanilang pangunahing paraan at sandigan para sa komunikasyon at pagbubuo ng interaksyon, kahit ang pinakamatandang miyembro ng lupon na ito ay mas sanay pa rin sa online na interaksyon [02, 04, 05]; dahil dito, naging puntahan ang social media sa pagpapahayag ng kuro at palagay sa mga napapanahong isyu at balita, isa na dito ay ang malawakang pagpuna sa pagtugon ng pamahalaan sa COVID-19  sa pamamagitan ng mga hashtags na: #LigtasNaBalikEskwela, #AcademicEaseNOW at #AcademicFreezeNOW, naging daan ito para sa malayang paghamon at pagtutol ng mga Hen Z sa kapabayaan sa katayuan ng edukasyon, ng mga institusyon at ang kalidad nito, kung saan mas nabigyan palabis ang mga nasa industriya ng aliwan at mga establisyementong pampubliko.

Ang mga nasa Hen Z ay kilala bilang isa sa pinaka-edukadong lupong demograpiko sa panahon ngayon, pinagyabong ito ng kanilang natural na kakayahang kritikal at digital, subalit ito ay malayo sa katotohanan para sa mga bansang nasa Global South — batay ito sa sarbey [02] na ipinamudmod sa kabataan, itinala nito ang mga sumusunod na salik na nakakaimpluwensya sa kabuuang pag-unlad: pagkawala ng trabaho ng magulang; lumalaking puwang sa sahod; tumataas na halaga ng mga bilihin; at ang pagtaas ng presyo para sa tuluyang edukasyon. Binigyang diin ng datos na ito ang kabalintunaan sa buhay ng mga Hen Z sa Global South, kumpara sa buhay kapurihan ng kanilang mga ka-demograpiko sa Global North o sa mga bansang mas maunlad, gayunman mas nakakabahala pa rin ang imamanang mundo ng Henerasyon Z, mundong nakabalot sa mga hadlang na pang-ekonomikal, pang-digital, at panlipunan na nagdadala ng malawakang hindi pagkakapantay-pantay — isa ito sa mga rason kung bakit hindi maikakaila na mas tampulan ng lupon na ito ang aktibismo kumpara sa ibang mga henerasyon [02] — dahil sila ang sasalo sa dumi ng sistema, gulo ng lipunan, at ng mga kawalan sa katarungan ng buhay at seguridad. 

Sila rin ang nasa unahan ng paghahangad sa pamahalaan na mas mahabagin, maalalahanin, at mas may magandang kalooban at mabilis na pagtugon para sa ‘siyang’ nasasakupan. Ayon sa pag-aaral at pananaliksik ng Pew Researchers (2020), mas naniniwala ang mga Hen Z na dapat may mas malaking ambag ang pamahalaan ng lipunan sa problema ng lipunan kesa pag-asa nito sa mga pribadong industriya at mga boluntaryo ng mga mamamayan. Ang mga Pilipinong Hen Z ay nakikisabay din sa ganitong adhikain, ginagamit nila ang social media bilang entablado ng public forum at malayang pagpapahayag ng pagkasiphayo para sa pamahalaan, ang mga kwentong ito ay sumasalamin sa malalim na problemang halos napabayaan sa sektor ng edukasyon at pag-aaral, pinatutunayan nito ang malaking ambag ng kabataan para sa pagbabago ng mga ideyal ng lipunan, sistema ng pamahalaan, at pag-angat ng kalidad ng buhay sa banda [o sa mundo]. 

 

Kwentong Digital: Pag-alala at Pagkabalisa, ang Mag-aaral bilang Mamamayan

Sa pagpasok ng pandemya, naging mahalaga ang pangangalaga sa kalusugan ng lahat, higit na nakatuon ito sa kabataang gumagalaw sa lipunan, naging rason ito para sa pagpapalit sa online o modular education, subali’t hindi dapat tanggalin ang materyal na realidad at kwentong ‘accessibility’ sa mga naratibong ito; dahil ang kahinaan sa lusog-isip ng mga Hen Z ay direktang kaakibat ng makabagong sistema ng edukasyon, sumunod dito ang pag-angat sa problema at malaking puwang sa sistema, ibinahagi kung paanong malalim ang epekto ng module-based learning, online learning, at ang inaasahang mabilis nilang pagtanggap at pag-ayon dito – dagdag pa dito ang pag-aaral sa mga tahanan na may pagkakataong hindi sumang-ayon sa payapang kapaligiran na kinakailangan at karapat-dapat para sa mga mag-aaral. Kayang sabihin na ang henerasyong pinakabihasa at sanay sa paggamit ng teknolohiya ay hindi namumuhi ay inaayawan ang makabagong set-up ng edukasyon [06]. 

Isa lamang ang kawalan ng maaliwalas na espasyo para sa pag-aaral sa mga laganap na nakakabahalang katotohanan ng bagong set-up, dahil lumilitaw din ang problema ng rolling blackouts (pagkawala ng kuryente), lack of access to reliable and inexpensive broadband providers, at kawalan ng suporta para sa mga mag-aaral na may pang-akademikong kahinaan sa text-based learning, ito ang kanilang katwiran para sa malawakang pagsigaw ng mas maayos na pagtugon sa pademya para sa mabilisang pagbalik sa face-to-face na pag-aaral. 

Ang mga malawakang diskursong binigyang litaw ng mga tanyag na organisasyong pang-kabataan ay naghahangad ng mas kaunting obligasyong pang-akademiko at mga safety nets sa edukasyon sa pamamaraan ng No Fail Policy at No Penalties For Late Submissions, dahil ang kanilang [Henerasyon Z] kakayahan at lubos na pag-intindi sa digital na mundo ay hindi sapat na rason para sa mabigat na dalaning pang-akademiko sa gitna ng pandemya. 

Isang pag-aaral mula sa lupon ng mga medical students sa Pilipinas (2021) [07] ang nagpaliwanag ng nakakabahalang sitwasyon sa ilalim ng flexible learning scheme:

Isa sa limang bata ang walang pagmamay-ari ng computer, nasa parehong bahagdan din ang umaasa lamang sa prepaid mobile data para sa online learning, habang isa naman sa benteng mag-aaral ang gumagamit lamang ng cellphone para sa pag-aaral at sa klase, dagdag pa dito ang mga pagsubok na kaakibat ng internet access, power interruptions, weak infrastructures, habang nasa mas mataas namang bilang ng mga mag-aaral ang nakakaranas ng mga hamon sa kanilang gawi sa pag-aaral, kalagayan sa bahay, at pakikipag-usap sa mga guro. 

Sa pagtuklas sa kanilang mga hinaing at mga naratibo sa pamamagitan ng mga hashtags, makikitang umiikot ang kanilang mga kagustuhan sa ma mas aktibong pagpapabuti ng sistema at pagtuklas ng alternatibo sa flexible learning scheme upang maiwasan ang lumulubhang kalagayan ng lusog-isip ng mga mag-aaral. May mga pag-aaral na nagbigay-liwanag sa mga iba’t ibang hadlang ng mga mag-aaral [07], naitala nito ang mga pagsubok na pang-tahanan, pang-edukasyon, at panlipunan, kasama nito ang mga isyu din na sakop ng sistema, programa, at sosyo-politikal na tema — ito ay ang pinakanangingibabaw at matatag na sigaw, ang mga mag-aaral ay dapat may buhay din bukod sa pagiging mag-aaral, bagay na ‘di-tiyak at malabo sa pandemya. Ang mga mag-aaral ay nag-aalala din para sa kalusugan (-isip at -pisikal), kinabukasan (pampinansyal at ekonomikal) at ang buhay at kinabukasan ‘di-tiyak na maisusulat gitna ng mga pangyayari na ito.

Kwentong Digital: Pag-aalaga at pagkalinga, ang Mag-aaral na Pinapakinggan 

Ang karanasan ng Hen Z bilang kabataan sa gitna ng pandemya ay nakakabahala, dahil ang panahong ito ng kanilang mga edad ay ang maghuhugis ng kanilang katangian pati na pagkatao at ang kanilang mga dapat na nararanasan sa espasyo ng lipunan, paaralan, at pag kapwa-tao ay ang tanging palatandaan ng kanilang malabatang edad – ang promenade, intramurals, physical relationships, at physical graduation ay ilan lamang sa mga bagay na ipinagkait sa kanila ng panahon at sistemang ‘to. Ang pagkawala ng mga karanasan na ito na dala-dala ng pagtigil sa pisikal na klase ay bumabaklas sa kanilang maayos na pananatili sa paaralan at kolehiyo, maaaring nabigyang proteksyon at kalinga ang kabataan laban sa COVID-19 sa pagpalit ng sistema ng edukasyon, subalit sinugal naman nito ang karanasang makaranas ng masaya at masiglang panahon.

Sa kabila nito, may makikita ring pagbabago sa mga mag-aaral pagdating sa kanilang mga hinahangad at mga adhikain, kung saan mas sumentro ito sa pangarap ng mas maayos na pamahalaan at mas magandang lipunan nasasapawan na nito ang kanilang mga adhikain at ambisyon para sa sarili. Bagaman ay may natural na pagka-dalubhasa sa mga pagkilos sa digital space, mas klaro na pinaniniwalaan ng mga Hen Z na ang platapormang ito ay hindi sapat para punan ang nawalang pagkakataon para sa pisikal na interaksyon; gayunpaman, sa kabila ng kanilang dinadaing, mas malinaw naging mas maingay at aktibo ang mga kabataan sa usaping politikal at panlipunan – malinaw itong itinala ni Galileo de Guzman Castillo na sinabi na ang boses ng mga Asyanong kabilang sa Henerasyon Z ay boses ng pagkakaisa, kapayapaan, at hutsiya, ito ay humihimok para sa kabataang Pilipino na makiisa sa pagpapayabong ng imamanang lipunan. 

Ayon din kay Castillo, “intergenerational justice calls for intergenerational accountability; that just and lasting peace entails learning from each other’s histories and realities” [09], kung saan ang hustisyang nararapat at ‘di lamang tumitingin sa pinakabatang lupon ng salinlahi dahil responsibilidad ay pananagutan din ng ibang henerasyon, at ang hustisya at pagkakapantay-pantay dito ay nakasalalay sa kakayahan ng mga henerasyon na magkaintindihan sa pinagdaanan, realidad, at katotohanang naiiba sa bawat henerasyon. Ang kanyang pahayag ay hindi lamang sa pananagutan ng bawat henerasyon, nguni’t ang pagpangako rin ng bawat isa para sa pagpapanatili ng kaunlaran at kapaligiran, sa pamamagitan lamang nito at ng pag-unawa sa pagkakaiba-iba ng realidad ng bawat salinlahi tayo’y makakatulong sa kaginhawaan at kaunlaran ng Henerasyon Z – Kolektibong kalinga at aksyon.

Kwentong Digital: Pananagutan at Pagkakaisa, ang Mag-aaral na binigyang Hustisya. 

Sa panahong ito, naging daan ang Digital Revolution sa kolektibong pag-intindi ng mga kabilang sa Henerasyon Z sa tungkulin ng teknolohiya,maayos na pagkolekta ng datos, pananaliksik, at kapaligiran pagdating sa pagbuo ng matagal na kaunlaran – bahagi ng kanilang mga pangarap at hinahangad ang pagkuha ng diploma at degree sa kolehiyo, bago mag pursigi sa higit na mas mataas na antas ng edukasyon. Ito ay pupuno sa pangako at sa kakayahan nila bilang mga unang tatayo sa harapan ng kaunlaran at pagbabago sa politika, industriya, at kalinga sa lahat ng sektor. 

Ang Henerasyong Z ang nangunguna sa pagpapayabong at pagbibigay dangal sa mga progresibong diskurso at talakayan ukol sa mga ‘radikal’ (o malayo sa tradisyunal na isipan at kultura) na ideya ng Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression o SOGIE, naging mabilis at mabisa din ang kanilang pagtulong at pagtugon sa panahong may pinagdadaanang mga kapahamakan at sakuna ang ibang komunidad o mga indibidwal, may kakayahan silang gamitin ang social media platforms bilang pangunahing plataporma para sa ‘modern’ na paraan ng pagbabago at bolunterismo [10]. Ang kanilang mabilis na pagbuo ng mga donation drives ay isa lamang bakas sa malaya, malaki, at matalinong potensyal ng henerasyon, sa mabuting adbokasiya nito ng mga nasa Henerasyon Z, ay siyang naging magandang ehemplo naman sa mga kompanya at korporasyon sa Pilipinas. Gaya na lamang ng PLDT at Smart na sumagot sa hinihimok ng kabataan na mas maunlad na lipunan, kung saan sila ay nagbigay ng “fiber powered WiFi connectivity to more government-run quarantine, swabbing, and isolation sites”[11] bukod pa sa mga inisyatiba at magandang adhikain na pagbibigay serbisyo at paghahatid ng hotlines targeting COVID-19-related health issues providing quick response or assistance for information via 02-894026843 or 1555 accessible by any mobile device. 

 

Mga Gabay na Tanong: 

  1. Paano nabago ng mga pagsubok na kaakibat ng mahabang pandemya ang pangarap mo para sa iyong sarili, sa lipunan, at sa bansa?
  2. Paano nabago ng pandemya ang pakikitungo mo sa teknolohiya at ang tugon mo sa social media? 
  3. Paano mo ipinagpapatuloy ang pag-abot sa iyong mga pangarap sa kabila ng hamon ng pandemya? 

Sanggunian:

[01] Parker, K., & Igielnik, R. (2020). On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What we Know about Gen Z so far. Pew Research. Retrieved 13 August 2021, from https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/05/14/on-the-cusp-of-adulthood-and-facing-an-uncertain-future-what-we-know-about-gen-z-so-far-2/

[02] Gomez, K., Mawhinney, T., & Betts, K. (n.d.). Welcome to Generation Z. Deloitte. Retrieved 10 August 2021, from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/consumer-business/welcome-to-gen-z.pdf

[03] World Health Organization. (2020, September 25). Conflict, climate crisis and COVID-19 pose great threats to the health of women and children. Available from:  https://www.who.int/news/item/25-09-2020-conflict-climate-crisis-and-covid-19-pose-great-threats-to-the-health-of-women-and-children (Accessed: 08 August 2021). [04] Stahl, A. (2021). How Gen Z is bringing a fresh perspective to the world of work. Forbes. Retrieved 10 August 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2021/05/04/how-gen-z-is-bringing-a-fresh-perspective-to-the-world-of-work/?sh=6e503a4e10c2

[05] Kim, A., McInerney, P., Smith, T.R., & Yamakawa, N. (2020). Gen-Zers in the Asia-Pacific Region aren’t like their older siblings. McKinsey, research & consultancy. Retrieved 10 August 2021, from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/what-makes-asia-pacifics-generation-z-different

[06] San Juan, A. D. (2020, August 15). Colleges, universities not required to delay school opening — CHED. Manila Bulletin. Available from: https://mb.com.ph/2020/08/15/colleges-universities-not-required-to-delay-school-opening-ched/ (Accessed: 02 August 2021). 

[07] Baticulon, R. E., Sy, J. J., Alberto, N., Baron, M., Mabulay, R., Rizada, L., Tiu, C., Clarion, C. A., & Reyes, J. (2021). Barriers to Online Learning in the Time of COVID-19: A National Survey of Medical Students in the Philippines. Medical science educator, 1–12. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40670-021-01231-z

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7904236/

[08] GlobalWebIndex & Snap, Inc. (2019). The Youth of the Nations: Global trends among Gen Z. Retrieved 12 August 2021 from

https://assets.ctfassets.net/inb32lme5009/7wDIuSsLOnSxTUqPmRb081/603b8ffb77757549d39034884a23743c/The_Youth_of_the_Nations__Global_Trends_Among_Gen_Z.pdf

[09] Castillo, G. (2021, June 16). Asian Generation Z’s Voice for Peace and Justice 

Focus on the Global South. International Peace Bureau’s Asian Webinar Series: Asian Generation Z’s Voice for Peace and Justice. Retrieved 10 August 2021, from https://focusweb.org/asian-generation-zs-voice-for-peace-and-justice/

[10] Sawadjaan, A. (2020, June 08). Millennials, Gen Zs help amid COVID-19 pandemic
BusinessWorld, BusinessWorld. Retrieved 10 August 2021, from https://www.bworldonline.com/millennials-gen-zs-help-amid-covid-19-pandemic/

[11] SMART Public Affairs. (2021, April 27). PLDT, Smart team up with gov’t for connectivity at isolation sites, COVID-19 facilities. Retrieved 16 August 2021, from https://smart.com.ph/About/newsroom/full-news/2021/04/27/pldt-smart-team-up-with-gov’t-for-connectivity-at-isolation-sites-covid-19-facilities

[12] Oxford Business Group. (2020, March 30). The role of the Philippines’ digital economy amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Retrieved 15 August 2021, from https://oxfordbusinessgroup.com/news/role-philippines-digital-economy-amid-covid-19-pandemic

[13] Save the Children. (2020, September 10). COVID-19: Children from poorest households across the globe have suffered greatest loss of family income, missed out most on education, and faced the highest risk of violence at home. Retrieved 16 August 2021, from https://www.savethechildren.net/news/covid-19-children-poorest-households-across-globe-have-suffered-greatest-loss-family-income

[14] Philippine News Agency [PNA]. (2020). Connectivity is key: Staying connected in time of pandemic, 30 December. Available from: https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1125996 (Accessed: 10 August 2021). 

[15] IDC Medical Center. (2020). The rising need for digital infrastructure development in the Philippines amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Retrieved 12 August 2021, from https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prAP46978920 

[16] Department of Health [DOH]. (2020, March 17). DOH Launches COVID-19 hotlines 1555, 02894-COVID. Retrieved 16 August 2021, from https://doh.gov.ph/node/20275

 

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